Have you ever been worried about seeing the dentist or another type of doctor out of a fear of pain? Some people wonder the same thing about visiting a licensed chiropractor to receive much-needed care for their neck or back.
Fortunately, while receiving a chiropractic adjustment is a unique experience, that doesn’t mean it has to be a painful one.
What Is a Chiropractic Adjustment?
For starters, it might be helpful to go over just what exactly a chiropractic adjustment is in the first place. There are so many terms that get thrown around, and they can be confusing for a newcomer.
In short, a chiropractic adjustment is a technique used by a qualified chiropractor in order to fix a misalignment in the spine. This can be done for the lumbar spine (i.e. lower back), thoracic spine (i.e. upper back), or cervical spine (i.e. neck area).
By carefully and gently realigning the affected portion of the spinal column, a chiropractor can relieve pressure between your joints. This in turn can provide relief from chronic or acute pain (including low-back pain and neck pain), reduce tension headache symptoms, promote superior flexibility and range of motion, and improve your overall posture.
Although this may sound similar to the “cracking” you do on your own (such as when you stretch out your neck or back), a chiropractic adjustment is much more precise and, frankly, safer. Chiropractors receive years of training in order to safely and effectively provide back and neck adjustments catered to a patient’s unique needs.
There is some overlap between the concept of chiropractic adjustment and spinal manipulation. While both techniques are intended to relieve joint pressure, the latter can be used not only by chiropractors but also by physical therapists and similar medical professionals.
While some chiropractors perform manual adjustments (i.e. adjustments done with the hand, often characterized by quick, sudden applications of pressure to a given spot on the spine), the pros at Cornerstone Chiropractic prefer a gentler, less invasive adjustment technique that relies on the integrator tool.
Say Hello to the Integrator Tool
Some people are scared of the “popping” and “cracking” sounds that result from a typical manual adjustment from a chiropractor. For those patients, as well as for individuals who require a gentler treatment, there is the integrator.
The integrator is a small, handheld device that a skilled chiropractor can use to produce effective spinal health results with less force.
The integrator was specially designed to provide safe, gentler chiropractic adjustments that still realign the spine and provide the pain management and joint pressure relief that patients are looking for.
Through state-of-the-art, neurologically-based analysis, a chiropractor can determine the precise locations of the spine most in need of manipulation. Then, he or she can use the integrator to deliver a safe, non-invasive adjustment to the spine. And since the integrator is mechanical, the chiropractor can reduce this application of pressure over and over again as needed.
The integrator reduces the chance of error and allows the chiropractor to supply consistently gentle pressure to the affected areas of the spine. The tool is so safe that it can be used on elderly patients, children who are only a few years old, and practically everyone in between!
What Does an Adjustment Feel Like?
A chiropractic adjustment starts the way most first visits to a doctor’s office do: with you stepping into the office, filling out new patient paperwork, then being ushered into a private exam room for your appointment. Once the chiropractor steps into the exam room, he or she will discuss your medical history, current health issues, and any potential concerns you may have about receiving treatment.
The chiropractor will then conduct a thorough initial exam that is intended to determine specific points of spinal misalignment, joint problems, and similar issues that fall within a chiropractor’s wheelhouse. Once your chiropractor has a better idea of the treatment your body needs, you can expect to receive an adjustment either manually or through the use of the integrator tool.
Whether your chiropractor goes hands-on or uses an instrument, you will experience some sudden movements (either the hands of the chiropractor or the spring-loaded part of the integrator tool that applies the necessary pressure). A chiropractor who performs manual adjustments may cause some popping or cracking noises, while an integrator tool is less likely to do so. Either way, you shouldn’t expect to feel any sudden pains.
Once your first adjustment is finished, your chiropractor will discuss how you’re currently feeling, as well as what you can expect to feel during the time following your appointment. Many people feel some soreness after their first adjustment, but it’s usually the same type of healthy soreness you feel when you lift weights or go for a run for the first time in months.
Any good chiropractor will be invested in your long-term health and wellness, so you can also expect to discuss a treatment plan adjusted to your specific needs. Your chiropractor may also give you advice regarding maintaining proper posture, doing regular flexibility exercises, or other wellness tips to keep you safe and healthy going forward.
Chiropractic Adjustments Do Not Hurt
A lot of patients struggle with the anticipation of pain, especially if they’ve never experienced a chiropractic adjustment or spinal manipulation before. Fortunately, a lot of this worry stems from a simple fear of the unknown or the unexpected, just like being afraid of going to the dentist as a child.
Chiropractors (especially those who rely on a reliable integrator) use gentle pressure and controlled movements to realign your joints and ensure proper alignment in your spinal column. While this often causes a bit of mild soreness for the first couple of sessions (again, this is similar to the soreness your body feels as it adjusts to a vigorous exercise regimen), that soreness usually disappears after a series of regular sessions.
Remember, too, that soreness and pain aren’t exactly the same thing. While a good chiropractic adjustment may leave your muscles and joints sore, you shouldn’t feel any sort of stabbing or throbbing pain. In fact, pain relief is one of the top benefits of going to a chiropractor in the first place!
The only side effects you might expect to experience after your first adjustment is some tenderness in the area that was just worked on. Again, this isn’t universal and is a sign of your body responding to the unexpected movements associated with chiropractic care. As your body becomes used to regular chiropractic sessions, any soreness or other discomfort should dissipate over time.
You Can Expect to Feel Different Almost Immediately
Lifelong wellness isn’t achieved in an instant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel almost immediate effects following your first chiropractic adjustment.
This is certainly the case if you’ve been dealing with long-term back pain or similar chronic issues. Even a single appointment with a chiropractor can give you some immediate pain relief. While this doesn’t mean one chiropractic adjustment is enough for everyone, it does mean you shouldn’t be surprised to feel different right out of the gate.
Apart from pain relief, you’ll also feel different in terms of your posture. For most people, a spinal alignment makes them feel “off” because they’ve gotten used to living with incorrect posture or a misaligned spine. As a result, a correction actually feels out of place until you get used to it.
Finally, you may feel tired after your first few appointments. Like with the soreness mentioned above, this is a side effect of your body getting used to its muscles and joints moving in a new way. These symptoms should disappear with regular chiropractic care.
Contact Cornerstone Chiropractic Today to Schedule an Appointment
Whether you’re experiencing chronic low-back pain or feel like your posture has been wreaking havoc on your neck health, you don’t need to be nervous about receiving gentle, non-invasive back pain treatments from Cornerstone Chiropractic.
Our neurological-based chiropractic care focuses on your overall wellness and is designed with your needs in mind. Give us a call or make an appointment online to start living pain-free!